My good friend Rob and I had decided to go on a weekend road trip. We both just needed to get away and the weather was great. We picked Pittsburgh. It was close enough for a quick trip and I’d always wanted to visit Fallingwater, an architectural masterpiece by Frank Lloyd Wright. Built between 1936 and 1939, it is a National Historic Landmark and near Pittsburgh.
I dropped Hudson (my beloved dog) off at his sitter’s off and we set off. We were running a tad late (no surprise there, LOL), but still had plenty of time to get to Fallingwater in time for that day’s last guided tour. Acording to our online directions (I won’t name names…..), it was about 5 and a half hours away from Toronto. In theory. By the time we got within spitting distance of the Grove City Premium Outlets, I knew there was no way we were getting to Fallingwater in time. We were out of luck. No Fallingwater this trip.
Naturally, we went shopping at the outlets instead—we were right by outlets for heaven’s sake. It’s like we had no choice! One we’d gotten our shopping fix taken care of, we got back on the road to Pittsburgh.
I have to admit my expectations of Pittsburgh were low. Steeltown doesn’t exactly scream ‘cool’, ‘fun’ or ‘great food’. Boy was I in for a surprise. The food there was honestly some of the best I’ve ever had. The brunch on Sunday is still THE BEST BRUNCH EVER hands down.
Let me tell you about it all:
When we arrived at our hotel, the DoubleTree by Hilton & Suites Pittsburgh Downtown, it was almost 9pm. We were pretty hungry. We didn’t feel like venturing out, so we thought we’d check out the hotel restaurant. The decor was very low-key and there weren’t a lot of people. I figured we shouldn’t expect too much. WRONG! Bigelow Grill delivered big!
We shared homemade gnocchi with smoked tomato butter, garlic, basil and goat cheese and a pizza with boursin, fontina, pancetta, heirloom tomato and sweet onion. Both were absolute standouts. I’m pretty picky with Italian food (I lived there for 5 years and ate A LOT of unbelievably good food). This was so genuine tasting, so full of flavour and, the best part, all organic. I highly recommend it.
The next morning, we searched for a Starbucks. We weren’t looking for anything fancy. Just a quick caffeine hit so we could get to exploring as soon as possible. The nearest Starbucks was inside the Omni William Penn Hotel. The prettiest Starbucks I’ve ever seen: crown holding, chandeliers, big comfy leather chairs. Ummm, wow. I felt a bit special, LOL.
We wandered around the neighbourhood for a bit, then took a ride on the century-old cable car, the Duquesne Incline. I am terrified of heights, but this seemed like an experience not to be missed. I was right. What a spectacular view of Pittsburgh.
We were getting hungry and found a hidden gem, Eleven restaurant. Home of the best brunch ever. Here’s what I had (don’t judge. I was hungry and it all looked so good): Mimosa (fresh orange juice, Brut Reserva Cava), a basket of bread and banana bread, Beignets with a raspberry, lime curd and, the main event, Steak & Eggs like I’ve never had before: a crispy farm egg that had been ‘shocked’ (look it up, it’s pretty cool), Anson Mills white corn grits, orange Carmen pepper and a béarnaise sauce. I ate every last morsel. O.M.G. My mouth is watering now us remembering it.
Before we hit the road home, we stopped in Lawrenceville (hip, trendy hood). I spotted La Gourmandine, a cute bakery and pastry shop, to grab us coffees. That brunch was making me seriously sleepy….I knew I was in trouble as soon as I stepped in.
(Photo from: La Gourmandine)
Owners “Fabien and Lisanne Moreau are from France and Lisanne’s mom is from Pittsburgh. Lisanne’s grandparents used to own a bakery and a cafe in a small village in Burgundy. When Lisanne decided to move to Pittsburgh, Fabien agreed to follow his wife with plans of opening his own business. “My first thought was to open a French restaurant, but I realized that there wasn’t any traditional French bakery in Pittsburgh”. In June 2010, La Gourmandine bakery & pastry shop opened.” A true French experience.
And we were homebound, bellies stuffed with amazing foodie experiences 🙂